Capilano Salmon Hatchery in Vancouver

Experience Vancouver’s Free Gem: A Day at the Capilano Salmon Hatchery!

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The Capilano Salmon Hatchery is nestled within the Capilano River Regional Park. It attracts over 400,000 visitors every year, making it a favorite for both tourists and locals. One of the best parts? Admission is absolutely free! Visitors are encouraged to bring along a camera, wear hiking shoes, and even pack a picnic to make the most of their visit. The experience can easily span a couple of hours.

At the hatchery’s interpretive centre, there’s a self-guided tour that offers a deep dive into the life cycle of fish. Here, you can witness the captivating journey of fish as they evolve from eggs and grow until they reach the juvenile stage. This is when they are released into the river during spring. The entire process is vibrant and intriguing.

The hatchery provides a unique opportunity to observe different stages of fish development. Depending on when you visit, you might spot juvenile salmon and trout in the display aquaria or even witness mature salmon returning in the fish ladder. A highlight for many is the “Fishway” in the observation gallery. Here, you can marvel at the determination of salmon as they ascend the fish ladders, leaping from one pool to the next. It’s an exhilarating sight for both kids and adults.

Best Times to View Different Fish Species:

  • Chinook Adults: October-November
  • Coho Adults: June-November
  • Steelhead Adults: March-April
  • Coho Juveniles: All Year
  • Chinook Juveniles: March-May

Hours of Operation:

  • November to March: 8 am to 4 pm
  • April: 8 am to 6 pm
  • May: 8 am to 7 pm
  • June to August: 8 am to 8 pm
  • September: 8 am to 7 pm
  • October: 8 am to 6 pm

Fun Facts:

  1. Salmon have an incredible sense of smell, which they use to find their way back to their birthplace to spawn.
  2. The life cycle of a salmon is complex, involving stages in both freshwater and saltwater environments.
  3. The fish ladder is an engineering marvel designed to help fish bypass obstacles, like dams, on their journey upstream.
  4. Salmon play a crucial role in the ecosystem, supporting wildlife from bears to eagles and even the forests themselves through nutrient cycling.

For more information: Capilano Salmon Hatchery – Vancouver’s North Shore (

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